Work begins on state-of-the-art aluminum recycling plant in Cassopolis

Published: Apr. 13, 2022 at 5:39 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 13, 2022 at 6:03 PM EDT
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CASSOPOLIS, Mich. (WNDU) - A company based in Norway is investing $140 million in southwest Michigan and will create 70 new jobs.

Last fall, Norsk Hydro signed a letter of intent to build a state-of-the-art aluminum recycling plant in the Smart Park industrial park in Cassopolis.

Today, heavy equipment was on scene and some earth work was taking place.

“It’s absolutely cause for celebration anytime you can bring in a worldwide industry, number one,

Into your community and number two, one that is going to invest these types of dollars and create these kind of jobs,” said Cassopolis Village Manager Emilie Sarratore.

When Midwest Energy and Communications built a new corporate headquarters, it was left with lots of surplus land.

Company officials figured the land could either be leased to someone who would grow crops or used to try and grow population in an attempt to preserve the rural way of life.

17 percent of the people that wake up in Cass County stay and work in the county. 83 percent work outside of the county,” said Dave Allen with Midwest Energy and Communications. “People tend to move closer to where it is, they work.”

According to Allen, the fear is, those who work elsewhere will simply move elsewhere. ”We’re into vibrant, relevant, sustainable rural communities. Anything we can do to preserve that rural way of life, we’re all about that. So, no, we were not in the economic development business, but we are now.”

Hydro is in the business of recycling aluminum for automotive, consumer, and building system applications.

Hydro has plants in 40 countries but hasn’t built a plant in the U.S. in more than 20 years.

The Smart Park in Cassopolis met a lot of the needs on Hydro’s site selection list, including access to rail, high speed internet, and solar power.

The project also revealed a true meeting of the minds.

“This company also likes smaller rural communities. They find the workforce to be better. They find that they like to partner and bring value to those communities. Most of their satellite businesses are in small rural communities, even in Norway,” said Cassopolis Village Manger Emilie Sarratore.

Plans call for the facility to be up and running by the end of 2023, potentially jump starting further development at the park.

“Our first tenant definitely won’t be our last. In fact, we have a couple of other very exciting projects. Too early to announce at this time, but we’re working on those projects to make them happen and bring them to fruition sometime in 2023,” said Allen.

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